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Islamic ethics (أخلاق إسلامية), defined as "good character," historically took shape gradually from the 7th century and was finally established by the 11th century. It was eventually shaped as a successful amalgamation of the Qur'anic teachings, the teachings of the Sunnah of Muhammad, the precedents of Islamic jurists (see Sharia and Fiqh), the pre-Islamic Arabian tradition, and non-Arabic elements (including Persian and Greek ideas) embedded in or integrated with a generally Islamic structure. Although Muhammad's preaching produced a "radical change in moral values based on the sanctions of the new religion and the present religion, and fear of God and of the Last Judgment", the tribal practice of Arabs did not completely die out. Later Muslim scholars expanded the religious ethic of the Qur'an and Hadith in immense detail.
The foundational source in the gradual codification of Islamic ethics was the Muslim understanding and interpretations of the Qur'an and practices of Muhammad. Its meaning has always been in context of active submission to God (Arabic: Allah), performed by the community in unison. The motive force in Islamic ethics is the notion that every human being is called to "command the good and forbid the evil" in all spheres of life. Muslims understand the role of Muhammad as attempting to facilitate this submission. Another key factor in the field of Islamic ethics is the belief that mankind has been granted the faculty to discern God's will and to abide by it. This faculty most crucially involves reflecting over the meaning of existence, which, as John Kelsay in the Encyclopedia of Ethics phrases, "ultimately points to the reality of God." Therefore, regardless of their environment, humans are believed to have a moral responsibility to submit to God's will and to follow Islam (as demonstrated in the Qur'an, Template:Quran-usc-range).
This natural inclination is, according to the Qur'an, subverted by mankind's focus on material success: such focus first presents itself as a need for basic survival or security, but then tends to manifest into a desire to become distinguished amongst one's peers. Ultimately, the focus on materialism, according to the Islamic texts, hampers with the innate reflection as described above, resulting in a state of jahiliyya or "heedlessness."
Muslims believe that Muhammad, like other prophets in Islam, was sent by God to remind human beings of their moral responsibility, and challenge those ideas in society which opposed submission to God. According to Kelsay, this challenge was directed against five main characteristics of pre-Islamic Arabia:
- The division of Arabs into varying tribes (based upon blood and kinship). This categorization was confronted by the ideal of a unified community based upon Islamic piety, an "ummah;"
- The acceptance of the worship of a multitude of deities besides Allah - a view challenged by strict Islamic monotheism, which dictates that Allah has no partner in worship nor any equal;
- The trait of muruwwa (manliness), which Islam discouraged, instead emphasizing on the traits of humility and piety;
- The focus on achieving fame or establishing a legacy, which was replaced by the concept that mankind would be called to account before God on the day of resurrection;
- The reverence of and compliance with ancestral traditions, a practice challenged by Islam — which instead assigned primacy to submitting to God and following revelation.
These changes lay in the reorientation of society as regards to identityand life of the Muslim belief, world view, and the hierarchy of values. From the viewpoint of subsequent generations, this caused a great transformation in the society and moral order of life in the Arabian Peninsula. For Muhammad, although pre-Islamic Arabia exemplified "heedlessness," it was not entirely without merit. Muhammad approved and exhorted certain aspects of the Arab pre-Islamic tradition, such as the care for one’s near kin, for widows, orphans, and others in need and for the establishment of justice. However, these values would be re-ordered in importance and placed in the context of strict monotheism.
The Qur'an defines and sets the standards of social and moral values for Muslims. S. A. Nigosian, Professor of religious studies at the University of Toronto, states that a lengthy passage in the Qur'an Template:Quran-usc-range "represents the fullest statement of the code of behavior every Muslim must follow". Nigosian and Ghamidi hold that these resemble the Ten Commandments in the Bible.
Early reforms under IslamEdit
Many reforms in human rights took place under Islam between 610 and 661, including the period of Muhammad's mission and the rule of the four immediate successors who established the Rashidun Caliphate. Historians generally agree that Muhammad preached against what he saw as the social evils of his day, and that Islamic social reforms in areas such as social security, family structure, slavery, and the rights of women and ethnic minorities improved on what was present in existing Arab society at the time. For example, according to Bernard Lewis, Islam "from the first denounced aristocratic privilege, rejected hierarchy, and adopted a formula of the career open to the talents." John Esposito sees Muhammad as a reformer who condemned practices of the pagan Arabs such as female infanticide, exploitation of the poor, usury, murder, false contracts, and theft. Bernard Lewis believes that the egalitarian nature of Islam "represented a very considerable advance on the practice of both the Greco-Roman and the ancient Persian world."
The Constitution of Medina, also known as the Charter of Medina, was drafted by Muhammad in 622. It constituted a formal agreement between Muhammad and all of the significant tribes and families of Yathrib (later known as Medina), including Muslims, Jews, and pagans. The document was drawn up with the explicit concern of bringing to an end the bitter inter tribal fighting between the clans of the Aws (Aus) and Khazraj within Medina. To this effect it instituted a number of rights and responsibilities for the Muslim, Jewish and pagan communities of Medina bringing them within the fold of one community-the Ummah. The Constitution established the security of the community, freedom of religion, the role of Medina as a haram or sacred place (barring all violence and weapons), the security of women, stable tribal relations within Medina, a tax system for supporting the community in time of conflict, parameters for exogenous political alliances, a system for granting protection of individuals, a judicial system for resolving disputes, and also regulated the paying of blood-wite (the payment between families or tribes for the slaying of an individual in lieu of lex talionis).
Muhammad made it the responsibility of the Islamic government to provide food and clothing, on a reasonable basis, to captives, regardless of their religion. If the prisoners were in the custody of a person, then the responsibility was on the individual. Lewis states that Islam brought two major changes to ancient slavery which were to have far-reaching consequences. "One of these was the presumption of freedom; the other, the ban on the enslavement of free persons except in strictly defined circumstances," Lewis continues. The position of the Arabian slave was "enormously improved": the Arabian slave "was now no longer merely a chattel but was also a human being with a certain religious and hence a social status and with certain quasi-legal rights."
Esposito states that reforms in women's rights affected marriage, divorce, and inheritance. Women were not accorded with such legal status in other cultures, including the West, until centuries later. The Oxford Dictionary of Islam states that the general improvement of the status of Arab women included prohibition of female infanticide and recognizing women's full personhood. "The dowry, previously regarded as a bride-price paid to the father, became a nuptial gift retained by the wife as part of her personal property." Under Islamic law, marriage was no longer viewed as a "status" but rather as a "contract", in which the woman's consent was imperative. "Women were given inheritance rights in a patriarchal society that had previously restricted inheritance to male relatives." Annemarie Schimmel states that "compared to the pre-Islamic position of women, Islamic legislation meant an enormous progress; the woman has the right, at least according to the letter of the law, to administer the wealth she has brought into the family or has earned by her own work." William Montgomery Watt states that Muhammad, in the historical context of his time, can be seen as a figure who testified on behalf of women’s rights and improved things considerably. Watt explains: "At the time Islam began, the conditions of women were terrible - they had no right to own property, were supposed to be the property of the man, and if the man died everything went to his sons." Muhammad, however, by "instituting rights of property ownership, inheritance, education and divorce, gave women certain basic safeguards." Haddad and Esposito state that "Muhammad granted women rights and privileges in the sphere of family life, marriage, education, and economic endeavors, rights that help improve women's status in society."
Sociologist Robert Bellah (Beyond belief) argues that Islam in its seventh-century origins was, for its time and place, "remarkably modern...in the high degree of commitment, involvement, and participation expected from the rank-and-file members of the community." This because, he argues, that Islam emphasized on the equality of all Muslims, where leadership positions were open to all. Dale Eickelman writes that Bellah suggests "the early Islamic community placed a particular value on individuals, as opposed to collective or group responsibility."
Pillars of Islam & Development of Excellent Moral & CharacterEdit
The importance of Moral and Ethics in Islamic Shariah can be understood by the fact that there is so much text in Quran and Sunnah that if we were to collect all of it, it will create many voluminous books. Islam is a religion that came to guide the high standard of morality to human race. Mohammad repeatedly said that the best Muslim is the one who has the best Moral character.
</li>Usama bin Sharik reported: “We were sitting in the company of the Prophet so quietly as if the birds were sitting on our heads. None of us had the courage to speak. In the meantime some people came and asked Muhammad: “Who among His slaves is dearest to Allah?” He replied: “One who has the best moral character” [Tabarani]
|“||Muhammad was asked: “Which Muslim has the perfect faith?” He answered: “One who has the best moral character.” [Tabarani]||”|
Muhammad said: “On judgment day there will be no deed weightier in the scale of the believer than his noble character. Allah does not like an obscene and rude talker, and the person who has a good character achieves the status of a person who prays and fasts” [Imam Ahmed]</li>
- The oneness of God (tahwid) is to believe in Allah as one God with unmatched power and attributes, and admit to these unmatched powers of Allah by submitting to commands of Allah unconditionally. Tawheed teaches humbleness, human nature, humility, philanthropy, piousness, righteousness and doing the right thing and abstaining from all evil and sinful activities.
- Daily prayers (salat) are five prayers evenly distributed throughout the day. Allah said in Quran that prayer protect from sins and unlawful activities: “... and perform As-Salat (وَأَقِمِ الصَّلَاةَ). Verily, As-Salat (the prayer) prevents from Al-Fahsha (الْفَحْشَاء - i.e. great sins of every kind, unlawful sexual intercourse, etc.) and Al-Munkar (الْمُنكَرِ - i.e. disbelief, polytheism, and every kind of evil wicked deed, etc.) ...” [al-Ankaboot 29:45]
- Charity (zakat) is due on all Muslim (based on financial ability). Zakat not only serves the purpose of welfare of citizens, but it also establishes relationship of kindness and love amongst various classes of the society. It reduces the love of material wealth in heart and increases the sense of helping other people in need.
- Sawm (fasting) is compulsory for Muslim in month of Ramadan. Fasting brings piousness and tawqa to Muslims. It not only teaches self control and abstinence from worldly desires but it also teaches the pain of others (who do not get enough food to eat).
- The pilgrimage to Mecca (hajj) is a ritually obligatory on Muslims who can afford it (financially and physically). The hajj teaches attributes of self control, high morals, humility, modesty, brotherhood, kindness and caring.
All these pillars teaches disciple, self-control, piousness, humility, humbleness, modesty, high morals, caring and love, and purify Muslims so much so that they attain moral perfection both inner and outward, while people see it and when no one is watching them, from their tongue and what they have in their heart. They complete eliminate hypocrisy and Riya (show off), and instill real character and noble qualities.</li>
Deen Islam and Foundation of Moral CodeEdit
Islamic Civilization created a huge impact on global scene. Some writers charge that Islamic Civilization is influenced with nations that lived prior to it, especially roman civilization. And that Arabs only added a mix to it. They try to link its root to Persians, Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, and Babylonians etc. This is a mistake on their part.
Though nations do get influenced with customs and prior cultures but Islamic civilization is original in nature and it's build on principals that were not borrowed from any other civilizations. However, what can be added is that Arab customs and traditions became part of secondary dealings and became part of civilization.
Some people consider Civilization as intellectual state, ethics, morals, culture, customs, tradition, science, art, industry, governance, politics etc. The fact is that these are not the fundamental of a civilization but the results and gains of it. These are the produce of core fundamentals that is the soul of a civilization.
Hence, it is important when one reviews a civilization it looks at the fundamental principles and its basis. For instance,
i. Believes and Thoughts:
a. Concept of Creation and Human's status in relation to creation: What is the concept of creation of universe and relationship between us (human) and universe?
b. Objective of Life and end result of our struggle: What is the purpose of our existence in this universe, and why are we doing this entire struggle? What is that objective and end game that we are running after?
c. Believes and thoughts: What are the founding principles upon which Human character development shapes up? What kind of mindset this civilization is building? What is the relationship between the ultimate objective and this special type of character building?
ii. Human development, Moral Standards and Ethical Code:What kind of human being it is creating? What kind of ethical and moral standards its setting for this human to live and achieve that ultimate objective. And though that civilization is building of a nation, but the individual humans are those who collectively build a nation. And building strong characters, ethics, morals and values in individual humans is what builds a strong nation.
iii. Collective System (of governance, justice, protection and dealings): Lastly, what kind of relationship it builds between various members of the nation. What is relationship between family members, between neighbor, between friends and society, rulers and ruled, judge, politicians, industrialist, businessman, priest, and common man etc. what are their rights and boundaries?
Mawdudi states that Civilization is build upon these five essences and so as Islamic Civilization. Hence, it is important to understand how an Islamic civilization approaches character building in light of these fundamentals. We will briefly discuss some of these points, but mainly focus on our original topic in relating Five Pillars of Islam with Human Development and Character Building. Read more...
Among the debates conducted in Islamic intellectual circles in the early Abbasid period, one of the most significant was the debate about the nature of value. To simplify the situation a little, we may say that two main theories opposed each other. One was that of the Mu'tazila, that values such as justice and goodness have a real existence, independent of anyone’s will, even God’s: this view is classed as “objectivism.” The other theory was that of Ash'ari and his like, that all values are determined by the will of God, who decides what shall be just and so forth: this will be called “theistic subjectivism.” Following a struggle between the two doctrines, that of Ash'ari finally prevailed in most learned circles of medieval Sunnite Islam, a result which had far-reaching consequences in law and other spheres of Islamic civilization.
According Amanat and Frank Griffel:
Historically, Islamic jurists and theologians developed two different answers to the question of why or when a ruling is correct. Their inquiry was connected more generally to the question of how to attain knowledge about the ethical value of an act. One position, which is characterized by rationalistic objectivism and associated with the Mu'tazilite school of theology, holds that acts are inherently good or bad and that the human intellect is able to know their value without the aid of revelation. The goodness or badness of an act is tied primarily to its beneficence or harm, which the human intellect can assess. A correct legal ruling thus would be one that permits a beneficial act or prohibits something harmful. The other position, characterized by theistic subjectivism, is that of the Ash'arite school of theology. Adherents of this position hold that something is good only because God commands it and bad only because He prohibits it. If God imposed lying or idolatry on the believer, then lying and idolatry would be good by definition. This school of thought emphasizes that the human intellect is incapable of arriving at moral knowledge independent from the divine revelation. The ethical and legal value of an act is knowable exclusively through an evaluation of God's will as revealed in scripture. A correct ruling can be derived only from the revealed law.
- See also: Islamic Agricultural Revolution
Perhaps due to resource scarcity in most Islamic nations, there was an emphasis on limited (and some claim also sustainable) use of natural capital, i.e. producing land. Traditions of haram and hima and early urban planning were expressions of strong social obligations to stay within carrying capacity and to preserve the natural environment as an obligation of khalifa or "stewardship".
Muhammad is considered a pioneer of environmentalism for his teachings on environmental preservation. His hadiths on agriculture and environmental philosophy were compiled in the "Book of Agriculture" of the Sahih Bukhari, which included the following saying:
"There is none amongst the believers who plants a tree, or sows a seed, and then a bird, or a person, or an animal eats thereof, but it is regarded as having given a charitable gift [for which there is great recompense]."
"And there is no animal in the earth nor bird that flies with its two wings, but that they are communities like yourselves."
The earliest known treatises dealing with environmentalism and environmental science, especially pollution, were Arabic medical treatises written by al-Kindi, Qusta ibn Luqa, al-Razi, Ibn Al-Jazzar, al-Tamimi, al-Masihi, Avicenna, Ali ibn Ridwan, Ibn Jumay, Isaac Israeli ben Solomon, Abd-el-latif, Ibn al-Quff, and Ibn al-Nafis. Their works covered a number of subjects related to pollution such as air pollution, water pollution, soil contamination, municipal solid waste mishandling, and environmental impact assessments of certain localities. Cordoba, Al-Andalus also had the first waste containers and waste disposal facilities for litter collection.
Many medieval Muslim thinkers pursued humanistic, rational and scientific discourses in their search for knowledge, meaning and values. A wide range of Islamic writings on love poetry, history and philosophical theology show that medieval Islamic thought was open to the humanistic ideas of individualism, occasional secularism, skepticism and liberalism.
- See also: Islamic contributions to Medieval Europe
Certain aspects of Renaissance humanism has its roots in the medieval Islamic world, including the "art of dictation, called in Latin, ars dictaminis," and "the humanist attitude toward classical language", in this case classical Arabic.
In the early Islamic Caliphate, the head of state, the Caliph, had a position based on the notion of a successor to Muhammad's political authority, who, according to Sunnis, were ideally elected by the people or their representatives. After the Rashidun Caliphs, later Caliphates during the Islamic Golden Age had a lesser degree of democratic participation, but since "no one was superior to anyone else except on the basis of piety and virtue" in Islam, and following the example of Muhammad, later Islamic rulers often held public consultations with the people in their affairs.
Electing or appointing a CaliphEdit
Fred Donner, in his book The Early Islamic Conquests (1981), argues that the standard Arabian practice during the early Caliphates was for the prominent men of a kinship group, or tribe, to gather after a leader's death and elect a leader from amongst themselves, although there was no specified procedure for this shura, or consultative assembly. Candidates were usually from the same lineage as the deceased leader, but they were not necessarily his sons. Capable men who would lead well were preferred over an ineffectual direct heir, as there was no basis in the majority Sunni view that the head of state or governor should be chosen based on lineage alone. Al-Mawardi has written that the caliph should be Qurayshi. Abu Bakr Al-Baqillani has said that the leader of the Muslims simply should be from the majority. Abu Hanifa an-Nu‘man also wrote that the leader must come from the majority.
Traditional Sunni Islamic lawyers agree that shura, loosely translated as 'consultation of the people', is a function of the caliphate. The Majlis ash-Shura advise the caliph. The importance of this is premised by the following verses of the Qur'an:
“...those who answer the call of their Lord and establish the prayer, and who conduct their affairs by Shura. [are loved by God]”[42:38]
“...consult them (the people) in their affairs. Then when you have taken a decision (from them), put your trust in Allah”[3:159]
The majlis is also the means to elect a new caliph. Al-Mawardi has written that members of the majlis should satisfy three conditions: they must be just, they must have enough knowledge to distinguish a good caliph from a bad one, and must have sufficient wisdom and judgment to select the best caliph. Al-Mawardi also said in emergencies when there is no caliphate and no majlis, the people themselves should create a majlis, select a list of candidates for caliph, then the majlis should select from the list of candidates. Some modern interpretations of the role of the Majlis ash-Shura include those by Islamist author Sayyid Qutb and by Taqiuddin al-Nabhani, the founder of a transnational political movement devoted to the revival of the Caliphate. In an analysis of the shura chapter of the Qur'an, Qutb argued Islam requires only that the ruler consult with at least some of the ruled (usually the elite), within the general context of God-made laws that the ruler must execute. Taqiuddin al-Nabhani, writes that Shura is important and part of the "the ruling structure" of the Islamic caliphate, "but not one of its pillars," and may be neglected without the Caliphate's rule becoming unIslamic. Non-Muslims may serve in the majlis, though they may not vote or serve as an official.
- See also: Islamic democracy, Sharia, Early reforms under Islam, Caliphate, and Islamic Jurisprudence: An International Perspective
In the field of human rights, early Islamic jurists introduced a number of advanced legal concepts which anticipated similar modern concepts in the field. These included the notions of the charitable trust and the trusteeship of property; the notion of brotherhood and social solidarity; the notions of human dignity and the dignity of labour; the notion of an ideal law; the condemnation of antisocial behavior; the presumption of innocence; the notion of "bidding unto good" (assistance to those in distress); and the notions of sharing, caring, universalism, fair industrial relations, fair contract, commercial integrity, freedom from usury, women's rights, privacy, abuse of rights, juristic personality, individual freedom, equality before the law, legal representation, non-retroactivity, supremacy of the law, judicial independence, judicial impartiality, limited sovereignty, tolerance, and democratic participation. Many of these concepts were adopted in medieval Europe through contacts with Islamic Spain and the Emirate of Sicily, and through the Crusades and the Latin translations of the 12th century.
The concept of inalienable rights was found in early Islamic law and jurisprudence, which denied a ruler "the right to take away from his subjects certain rights which inhere in his or her person as a human being." Islamic rulers could not take away certain rights from their subjects on the basis that "they become rights by reason of the fact that they are given to a subject by a law and from a source which no ruler can question or alter." There is evidence that John Locke's formulation of inalienable rights and conditional rulership, which were present in Islamic law centuries earlier, may have also been influenced by Islamic law, through his attendance of lectures given by Edward Pococke, a professor of Islamic studies.
Early Islamic law recognized two sets of human rights. In addition to the category of civil rights and political rights (covered in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights), Islamic law also recognized an additional category: social, economic and cultural rights. This latter category was not recognized in the Western legal tradition until the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in 1966. The right of privacy, which was not recognized in Western legal traditions until modern times, was recognized in Islamic law since the beginning of Islam. In terms of women's rights, women generally had more legal rights under Islamic law than they did under Western legal systems until the 19th and 20th centuries. For example, "French married women, unlike their Muslim sisters, suffered from restrictions on their legal capacity which were removed only in 1965." Noah Feldman, a Harvard University law professor, notes:
As for sexism, the common law long denied married women any property rights or indeed legal personality apart from their husbands. When the British applied their law to Muslims in place of Shariah, as they did in some colonies, the result was to strip married women of the property that Islamic law had always granted them — hardly progress toward equality of the sexes.
[T]he manner in which an act was qualified as morally good or bad in the spiritual domain of Islamic religion was quite different from the manner in which that same act was qualified as legally valid or invalid in the temporal domain of Islamic law. Islamic law was secular, not canonical... Thus, it was a system focused on ensuring that an individual received justice, not that one be a good person.
Count Leon Ostorog, a French jurist, wrote the following on classical Islamic law in 1927:
Those Eastern thinkers of the ninth century laid down, on the basis of their theology, the principle of the Rights of Man, in those very terms, comprehending the rights of individual liberty, and of inviolability of person and property; described the supreme power in Islam, or Califate, as based on a contract, implying conditions of capacity and performance, and subject to cancellation if the conditions under the contract were not fulfilled; elaborated a Law of War of which the humane, chivalrous prescriptions would have put to the blush certain belligerents in the Great War; expounded a doctrine of toleration of non-Moslem creeds so liberal that our West had to wait a thousand years before seeing equivalent principles adopted.
Some scholars have suggested that the idea of "a charter defining the duties of a sovereign toward his subjects, as well as subjects toward the sovereign", which led to the "genesis of European legal structures" and the development of the Magna Carta, may have been "brought back by Crusaders who were influenced by what they had learned in the Levant about the governing system" established by Saladin. It has also been suggested that "much of the West’s understanding of liberalism in law, economics and society has roots in medieval Islam."
Another influence of Islamic law on European law was the presumption of innocence, which was introduced to Europe by King Louis IX of France soon after he returned from Palestine during the Crusades. Prior to this, European legal procedure consisted of either trial by combat or trial by ordeal. In contrast, Islamic law was based on the presumption of innocence from its beginning, as declared by the Caliph Umar in the 7th century. Other freedoms and rights recognized in the Islamic legal system based on the Qur'an since the 7th century, but not recognized in the Western world until much later, include "the rights to know, to choose belief and behaviour, to read and write, the right to power, and even the right to choose government."
Democratic religious pluralism and freedom of religion existed in classical Islamic Sharia law, as the religious laws and courts of other religions, including Christianity, Judaism and Hinduism, were usually accommodated within the Islamic legal framework, as seen in the early Caliphate, Al-Andalus, Indian subcontinent, and the Ottoman Millet system. In medieval Islamic societies, the qadi (Islamic judges) usually could not interfere in the matters of non-Muslims unless the parties voluntarily choose to be judged according to Islamic law, thus the dhimmi communities living in Islamic states usually had their own laws independent from the Sharia law, such as the Jews who would have their own Halakha courts.
Dhimmis were allowed to operate their own courts following their own legal systems in cases that did not involve other religious groups, or capital offences or threats to public order. However, in the Ottoman Empire of the 18th and 19th centuries dhimmis frequently attended the Muslim courts. This was not only when their appearance was compulsory (for example in cases brought against them by Muslims) but also in order to record property and business transactions within their own communities. Cases were taken out against Muslims, against other dhimmis and even against members of the dhimmi’s own family. Dhimmis often took cases relating to marriages, divorces and inheritance cases to the Muslim courts so that these cases would be decided under shari’a law. Oaths sworn by dhimmis in the Muslim courts were sometimes the same as the oaths taken by Muslims, sometimes tailored to the dhimmis’ beliefs.
The covenant of protection imposes upon us certain obligations toward the ahl al-dhimmah. They are our neighbours, under our shelter and protection upon the guarantee of Allah, His Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace), and the religion of Islam. Whoever violates these obligations against any one of them by so much as an abusive word, by slandering his reputation, or by doing him some injury or assisting in it, has breached the guarantee of Allah, His Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace), and the religion of Islam.
Non-Muslims were allowed to engage in religious practices that was usually forbidden by Islamic law. For example, non-Muslims were allowed to consume alcohol and pork, both of which were forbidden to Muslims. In some cases, even religious practices which Muslims found repugnant were also allowed. One example was the Zoroastrian practice of incestuous "self-marriage" where a man could marry his mother, sister or daughter. According to the famous Islamic legal scholar Ibn Qayyim (1292-1350), non-Muslims had the right to engage in such religious practices even if it offended Muslims, under the conditions that such cases not be presented to Islamic Sharia courts and that these religious minorities believed that the practice in question is permissable according to their religion. This ruling was based on the precedent that the prophet Muhammad did not forbid such self-marriages among Zoroastrians despite coming in contact with them and having knowledge of their practices. Religious minorities were also free to do whatever they wished in their own homes, provided they did not publically engage in illicit sexual activity in ways that could threaten public morals.
Influence in EuropeEdit
- See also: Islamic Civilization during the European Renaissance, Islamic contributions to Medieval Europe, and Protestantism and Islam
The concept of religious tolerance in Sharia law had a significant influence on the development of religious tolerance in Europe during the early modern period, when European reformists frequently referred to the Ottoman Empire as an ideal model of religious tolerance for Europe to follow. For example, Patriarch Michael III of Anchialos stated in the 12th century:
Let the Muslim be my master in outward things rather than the Latin dominate me in matters of the spirit. For if I am subject to the Muslim, at least he will not force me to share his faith. But if I have to be under Frankish rule and united with the Roman Church, I may have to separate myself from my God.
Non-Muslims were also allowed to openly preach their religions. For example, Catholic authorities in 1548 requested the Ottoman sultan’s representative in Tolna (Hungary) to execute or expel the Hungarian pastor Imre Szigedi for his Protestant preaching. In response, the chief intendant of the Pasha of Buda denied their request but instead issued an edict of toleration:
Preachers of the faith invented by Luther should be allowed to preach the Gospel everywhere to everybody, whoever wants to hear, freely and without fear, and that all Hungarians and Slavs (who indeed wish to do so) should be able to listen to and recieve the word of God without any danger. Because this is the true Christian faith and religion.
This edict from the Pasha of Buda had a significant influence in Europe. For example, it inspired the Edict of Torda in 1568. Emmerich Zigerius of Tolna, a Protestant preacher in the Balkans, wrote about the Pasha’s edict to his friend Matthias Flacius in Germany. Flacius published the letter in 1550 to confront the German rulers with the contrast between Catholic oppression of Protestants and the generosity of the Turks towards ‘the true religion’. Philipp Melanchthon, Martin Luther’s right hand man, cited the tolerance of the Turks to rebuke Cardinal Sadoleto for his intolerance towards Protestants. Martin Luther himself stated:
our tyrants capture us, force us, drive us out, haunt us, burn us and drown us, as the Pope is much worse in this regard, than the Turk.
In Britain, the example of the Ottoman Empire to promote religious tolerance was employed by authors such as Walter Raleigh, Henry Burton, [[Roger Williams]], Charles Blackwood, Edward Bagshaw, Quakers like George Fox, and John Locke, who was to become an influence on the American constitution.
Freedom of expressionEdit
Another reason the Islamic world flourished during the Middle Ages was an early emphasis on freedom of speech. This was first declared in the Rashidun Caliphate by the second Caliph, Umar, in the 7th century:
Another such example can be found in a letter written by the fourth Caliph, Ali ibn Abi Talib to his governor of Egypt, Malik al-Ashtar. The Caliph advices his governor on dealings with the poor masses thus;
"Out of your hours of work, fix a time for the complainants and for those who want to approach you with their grievances. During this time you should do no other work but hear them and pay attention to their complaints and grievances. For this purpose you must arrange public audience for them during this audience, for the sake of Allah, treat them with kindness, courtesy and respect. Do not let your army and police be in the audience hall at such times so that those who have grievances against your regime may speak to you freely, unreservedly and without fear." Nahjul Balaagha letter 53
Citizens of the Rashidun Caliphate were also free to criticize the Rashidun Caliphs, as the rule of law was binding on the head of state just as much as it was for the citizens. For example, there was an incident when Umar heard loud sounds from a drunkard inside a house. After knocking on the door and no one answered, Umar climbed over the roof and into the courtyard, where he saw the owner and criticized him for letting a drunkard into his house. In turn, the owner of the house criticized Umar for breaking the law by entering his house without permission. After Umar forgave him, the owner criticized him again, asking him who gave him the right to "forgive what God has condemned as a crime?" There were also numerous other situations where citizens insulted Caliph Umar, but he tolerated the insults and simply provided them explanations. Similar situations also occurred during the time of Caliph Ali. For example, there was an occasion when he was giving a Khutbah speech and a Kharijite rudely interrupted him with insulting language. Ali's companions urged that the man be punished but Ali declined on the grounds that his "right to freedom of speech must not be imperilled."
"Bring forward all the arguments you wish and say whatever you please and speak your mind freely. Now that you are safe and free to say whatever you please appoint some arbitrator who will impartially judge between us and lean only towards the truth and be free from the empery of passion, and that arbitrator shall be Reason, whereby God makes us responsible for our own rewards and punishments. Herein I have dealt justly with you and have given you full security and am ready to accept whatever decision Reason may give for me or against me. For "There is no compulsion in religion" (Qur'an 2:256) and I have only invited you to accept our faith willingly and of your own accord and have pointed out the hideousness of your present belief. Peace be with you and the blessings of God!"
According to George Makdisi and Hugh Goddard, "the idea of academic freedom" in universities was "modelled on Islamic custom" as practiced in the medieval Madrasah system from the 9th century. Islamic influence was "certainly discernible in the foundation of the first delibrately-planned university" in Europe, the University of Naples Federico II founded by Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor in 1224.
During the early days of Islam in the 7th century CE, reforms in women's rights affected marriage, divorce and inheritance. Women were not accorded such legal status in other cultures, including the West, until centuries later. The Oxford Dictionary of Islam states that the general improvement of the status of women in Arab societies included prohibition of female infanticide and recognizing women's full personhood. Under Islamic law, marriage was no longer viewed as a status but rather as a contract, in which the woman's consent was imperative. "The dowry, previously regarded as a bride-price paid to the father, became a nuptial gift retained by the wife as part of her personal property" (sse also Dower). "Women were given inheritance rights in a patriarchal society that had previously restricted inheritance to male relatives."
Whilst in the pre-modern period there was not a formal feminist movement, nevertheless there were a number of important figures who argued for improving women's rights and autonomy. These range from the medieval mystic and philosopher Ibn Arabi, who argued that women could achieve spiritual stations as equally high as men  to Nana Asma’u, daughter of eighteenth-century reformer Usman Dan Fodio, who pushed for literacy and education of Muslim women.
Women played an important role in the foundations of many Islamic educational institutions, such as Fatima al-Fihri's founding of the University of Al Karaouine in 859 CE. This continued through to the Ayyubid dynasty in the 12th and 13th centuries, when 160 mosques and madrasahs were established in Damascus, 26 of which were funded by women through the Waqf (charitable trust or trust law) system. Half of all the royal patrons for these institutions were also women.
According to the Sunni scholar Ibn Asakir in the 12th century, there were opportunities for female education. He wrote that girls and women could study, earn ijazahs (academic degrees), and qualify as scholars (ulema) and teachers. This was especially the case for learned and scholarly families, who wanted to ensure the highest possible education for both their sons and daughters. Ibn Asakir had himself studied under 80 different female teachers. Female education in the Islamic world was inspired by Muhammad's wives: Khadijah, a successful businesswoman, and Aisha, a renowned scholar of the hadith and military leader. Muhammad is said to have praised the women of Medina for their desire for religious knowledge: "How splendid were the women of the ansar; shame did not prevent them from becoming learned in the faith."
The labor force in the Caliphate came from diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds, while both men and women were involved in diverse occupations]]nd economic activities. Women were employed in a wide range of commercial activities and diverse occupations in the primary sector (as farmers for example), secondary sector (as construction workers, dyers, spinners, etc.) and tertiary sector (as investors, doctors, nurses, presidents of guilds, brokers, peddlers, lenders, scholars, etc.). Muslim women also held a monopoly over certain branches of the textile industry, the largest and most specialized and market-oriented industry at the time, in occupations such as spinning, dying, and embroidery. In comparison, female property rights and wage labour were relatively uncommon in Europe until the Industrial Revolution in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Rule of lawEdit
Islamic jurists anticipated the concept of the rule of law, the equal subjection of all classes to the ordinary law of the land, where no person is above the law and where officials and private citizens are under a duty to obey the same law. A Qadi (Islamic judge) was also not allowed to discriminate on the grounds of religion, race, colour, kinship or prejudice. There were also a number of cases where Caliphs had to appear before judges as they prepared to take their verdict. The following hadith established the principle of rule of law in relation to nepotism and accountability:
Narrated ‘Aisha: The people of Quraish worried about the lady from Bani Makhzum who had committed theft. They asked, "Who will intercede for her with Allah's Apostle?" Some said, "No one dare to do so except Usama bin Zaid the beloved one to Allah's Apostle." When Usama spoke about that to Allah's Apostle Allah's Apostle said: "Do you try to intercede for somebody in a case connected with Allah’s Prescribed Punishments?" Then he got up and delivered a sermon saying, "What destroyed the nations preceding you, was that if a noble amongst them stole, they would forgive him, and if a poor person amongst them stole, they would inflict Allah's Legal punishment on him. By Allah, if Fatima, the daughter of Muhammad (my daughter) stole, I would cut off her hand."
Various Islamic lawyers do however place multiple conditions, and stipulations e.g. the poor cannot be penalised for stealing out of poverty, before executing such a law, making it very difficult to reach such a stage. It is well known during a time of drought in the Rashidun caliphate period, capital punishments were suspended until the effects of the drought passed.
According to Noah Feldman, a law professor at Harvard University, the legal scholars and jurists who once upheld the rule of law were replaced by a law governed by the state due to the codification of Sharia by the Ottoman Empire in the early 19th century:
How the scholars lost their exalted status as keepers of the law is a complex story, but it can be summed up in the adage that partial reforms are sometimes worse than none at all. In the early 19th century, the Ottoman empire responded to military setbacks with an internal reform movement. The most important reform was the attempt to codify Shariah. This Westernizing process, foreign to the Islamic legal tradition, sought to transform Shariah from a body of doctrines and principles to be discovered by the human efforts of the scholars into a set of rules that could be looked up in a book.
Once the law existed in codified form, however, the law itself was able to replace the scholars as the source of authority. Codification took from the scholars their all-important claim to have the final say over the content of the law and transferred that power to the state.
Accountability of rulersEdit
Sunni Islamic lawyers have commented on when it is permissible to disobey, impeach or remove rulers in the Caliphate. This is usually when the rulers are not meeting public responsibilities obliged upon them under Islam. Al-Mawardi said that if the rulers meet their Islamic responsibilities to the public, the people must obey their laws, but if they become either unjust or severely ineffective then the Caliph or ruler must be impeached via the Majlis ash-Shura. Similarly Al-Baghdadi believed that if the rulers do not uphold justice, the ummah via the majlis should give warning to them, and if unheeded then the Caliph can be impeached. Al-Juwayni argued that Islam is the goal of the ummah, so any ruler that deviates from this goal must be impeached. Al-Ghazali believed that oppression by a caliph is enough for impeachment. Rather than just relying on impeachment, Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani obliged rebellion upon the people if the caliph began to act with no regard for Islamic law. Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani said that to ignore such a situation is haraam, and those who cannot revolt inside the caliphate should launch a struggle from outside. Al-Asqalani used two ayahs from the Qur'an to justify this:
“...And they (the sinners on qiyama) will say, 'Our Lord! We obeyed our leaders and our chiefs, and they misled us from the right path. Our Lord! Give them (the leaders) double the punishment you give us and curse them with a very great curse'...”[33:67–68]
Islamic lawyers commented that when the rulers refuse to step down via successful impeachment through the Majlis, becoming dictators through the support of a corrupt army, if the majority agree they have the option to launch a revolution against them. Many noted that this option is only exercised after factoring in the potential cost of life.
Equality before the lawEdit
Right of revolutionEdit
The Quran, for example, makes it clear that there is a duty of obedience: "Obey God, obey the Prophet, obey those who hold authority over you." And this is elaborated in a number of sayings attributed to Muhammad. But there are also sayings that put strict limits on the duty of obedience. Two dicta attributed to the Prophet and universally accepted as authentic are indicative. One says, "there is no obedience in sin"; in other words, if the ruler orders something contrary to the divine law, not only is there no duty of obedience, but there is a duty of disobedience. This is more than the right of revolution that appears in Western political thought. It is a duty of revolution, or at least of disobedience and opposition to authority. The other pronouncement, "do not obey a creature against his creator," again clearly limits the authority of the ruler, whatever form of ruler that may be. 
The ethical standards of Muslim physicians was first laid down in the 9th century by Ishaq bin Ali Rahawi, who wrote the Adab al-Tabib (Conduct of a Physician), the first treatist dedicated to medical ethics. He regarded physicians as "guardians of souls and bodies", and wrote twenty chapters on various topics related to medical ethics, including:
- What the physician must avoid and beware of
- The manners of visitors
- The care of remedies by the physician
- The dignity of the medical profession
- The examination of physicians
- The removal of corruption among physicians
The earliest known prohibition of illegal drugs occurred under Islamic law, which prohibited the use of Hashish, a preparation of cannabis, as a recreational drug. Classical jurists in medieval Islamic jurisprudence, however, accepted the use of the Hashish drug for medicinal and therapeutic purposes, and agreed that its "medical use, even if it leads to mental derangement, remains exempt" from punishment. In the 14th century, the Islamic scholar Az-Zarkashi spoke of "the permissibility of its use for medical purposes if it is established that it is beneficial."
Medical peer reviewEdit
The earliest known lawsuits were described in the Ethics of the Physician by Ishaq bin Ali al-Rahwi (854–931) of al-Raha, Syria, who describes it as part of an early medical peer review process, where the notes of a practicing Islamic physician were reviewed by peers and he/she could face a lawsuit from a maltreated patient if the reviews were negative.
Most ancient and medieval societies believed that mental illness was caused by either demonic possession or as punishment from a god, which led to a negative attitude towards mental illness in Judeo-Christian and Greco-Roman societies. On the other hand, Islamic neuroethics and neurotheology held a more sympathetic attitude towards the mentally ill, as exemplified in Sura 4:5 of the Qur'an:
"Do not give your property which God assigned you to manage to the insane: but feed and cloth the insane with this property and tell splendid words to him."
This Quranic verse summarized Islam's attitudes towards the mentally ill, who were considered unfit to manage property but must be treated humanely and be kept under care by a guardian, according to Islamic law. This positive neuroethical understanding of mental health consequently led to the establishment of the first psychiatric hospitals in the medieval Islamic world from the 8th century, and an early scientific understanding of neuroscience and psychology by medieval Muslim physicians and psychologists, who discovered that mental disorders are caused by dysfunctions in the brain.
The early Islamic treatises on international law from the 9th century onwards covered the application of Islamic ethics, Islamic economic jurisprudence and Islamic military jurisprudence to international law, and were concerned with a number of modern international law topics, including the law of treaties; the treatment of diplomats, hostages, refugees and prisoners of war; the right of asylum; conduct on the battlefield; protection of women, children and non-combatant civilians; contracts across the lines of battle; the use of poisonous weapons; and devastation of enemy territory.
The Islamic legal principles of international law were mainly based on Qur'an and the Sunnah of Muhammad, who gave various injunctions to his forces and adopted practices toward the conduct of war. The most important of these were summarized by Muhammad's successor and close companion, Abu Bakr, in the form of ten rules for the Muslim army:
Stop, O people, that I may give you ten rules for your guidance in the battlefield. Do not commit treachery or deviate from the right path. You must not mutilate dead bodies. Neither kill a child, nor a woman, nor an aged man. Bring no harm to the trees, nor burn them with fire, especially those which are fruitful. Slay not any of the enemy's flock, save for your food. You are likely to pass by people who have devoted their lives to monastic services; leave them alone.
Prisoners of warEdit
"Who could doubt that such goodness, friendship and charity come from God? Men whose parents, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, had died in agony at our hands, whose lands we took, whom we drove naked from their homes, revived us with their own food when we were dying of hunger and showered us with kindness even when we were in their power."
Peace and justiceEdit
As in other Abrahamic religions, peace is a basic concept of Islam. The Arabic term "Islam" itself (إسلام) is usually translated as "submission"; submission of desires to the will of God. It comes from the term aslama, which means "to surrender" or "resign oneself". The Arabic word salaam (سلام) ("peace") has the same root as the word Islam. One Islamic interpretation is that individual personal peace is attained by utterly submitting to Allah. The greeting "Salaam alaykum", favoured by Muslims, has the literal meaning "Peace be with you". Muhammad is reported to have said once, "Mankind are the dependents, or family of God, and the most beloved of them to God are those who are the most excellent to His dependents." "Not one of you believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself." Great Muslim scholars of prophetic tradition such as Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani and Sharafuddin al Nawawi have said  that the words ‘his brother’ mean any person irrespective of faith.
The concepts of welfare and pension were introduced in early Islamic law as forms of Zakat (charity), one of the Five Pillars of Islam, since the time of the Abbasid caliph Al-Mansur in the 8th century. The taxes (including Zakat and Jizya) collected in the treasury of an Islamic government was used to provide income for the needy, including the poor, elderly, orphans, widows, and the disabled. According to the Islamic jurist Al-Ghazali (Algazel, 1058-1111), the government was also expected to store up food supplies in every region in case a disaster or famine occurs. The Caliphate was thus one of the earliest welfare states. From the 9th century, funds from the treasury were also used towards the Waqf (charitable trusts), often for the purpose of building of Madrassahs and Bimaristan hospitals.
Among the many welfare programs established by Caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab, these included government welfare grants distributed to the needy without any services in return. For example, he established a special grant for the nursing of babies, providing 100 dirhams (silver coins) per child per year.  Umar expressed the spirit of his constitutional state when he said:
By God, he that is weakest among you shall be in my eye the strongest, until I have vindicated for him his rights; he that is strongest I will treat as the weakest, until he complies with the law.
Abū Dharr al-Ghifārī, a Companion of Prophet Muḥammad, is credited by many as the founder of Islamic socialism. He protested against the accumulation of wealth by the ruling class during ‘Uthmān's caliphate and urged the equitable redistribution of wealth. There exist a number of parallels between Islamic economics and communism, including the Islamic ideas of zakat and riba.
- Islamic Peace
- Islamic bioethics
- Early Islamic philosophy
- Islamic democracy
- Islamic Golden Age
- Ethics in religion
- Criticism of the Morality of Islam
- Islam and slavery
- Women in Islam
- Islam and domestic violence
- Homosexuality and Islam
- Islam and antisemitism
- Islamic terrorism
- Apostasy in Islam
- Censorship by religion
- Criticism of Muhammad
- Criticism of the Qur'an
- Sudanese teddy bear blasphemy case
- Pope Benedict XVI Islam controversy
- Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons
- Fitna (film)
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- ↑ "Ak̲h̲lāḳ", Encyclopaedia of Islam Online
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Firestone (1999) p. 118;
"Muhammad", Encyclopedia of Islam Online
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F. B. Artz (1980), The Mind of the Middle Ages, Third edition revised, University of Chicago Press, pp 148-50.
(cf. References, 1001 Inventions)
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- ↑ Judge Weeramantry, Christopher G. (1997), Justice Without Frontiers, Brill Publishers, pp. 8, 135, 139–40, ISBN 9041102418
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- ↑ Freedom and Justice in the Middle East
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- ↑ Mathre, Mary Lynn (1997), Cannabis in Medical Practice: A Legal, Historical and Pharmacological Overview of the Therapeutic Use of Marijuana, McFarland, p. 40, ISBN 0786403616
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- ↑ Fath al-Bari and sharh sahih bukhari by Imam Al Nawawi
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